Hindu Endowments Board says Thaipusam incident resolved "amicably"

SINGAPORE - The Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) said it has met the group involved in an incident during this year's Thaipusam Jan 31 procession and both parties went away with "lessons for all", it said in a statement on Friday (Feb 9).

The group had alleged, in a social media post, that a police officer and a HEB official had disrupted their kavadi procession during Thaipusam. The post prompted a clarification from the police that police officers present were trying to get the group to lower their volume. Police had also spotted members of the group using using portable loudspeakers, which is not permitted under the Thaipusam permit conditions.

In Friday's statement, the HEB said that the group refuted claims that they were using musical instruments that were not allowed, adding that they had used a hand-held tambourine.

"Both parties shared their respective viewpoints and agreed that there were lessons for all arising from the miscommunication that led to this unfortunate incident. The meeting ended amicably," the board said of the Thursday (Feb 8) meeting.

HEB added that it had decided not to issue a statement on the incident until it could meet the group.

The board reiterated that while the singing of religious hymns is allowed, no musical instrument or amplification device can be used along the procession.

Such procession rules were shared with kavadi carriers through briefings, handouts, local media reports, and more, making them "well-known", said the board.

It also noted additional challenges this year due to the lunar eclipse with the kavadi processions commencing earlier than usual, soon after midnight when most residents would have been resting.

HEB is the main organiser of Thaipusam, which is an important religious event for Hindus in Singapore. Music and the singing of religious hymns are an essential part of this religious foot procession. This year, there were 19 music transmission points and three "live" music stations along the 3.1km route, more than previous years.

HEB said it will continue to work closely with devotees and government authorities to make improvements to Thaipusam and seeks patience and cooperation to make Thaipusam a pleasant and spiritually fulfilling experience.

Feedback can be submitted to admin@heb.org.sg.